If you want to be among the first Amazon customers to have their purchases delivered by a drone, you’ll have to have a lawn big enough to act as a drone landing strip. A new promotional video released by the online retail giant gave a bit of insight to the much anticipated arrival.
Although not saying when drone deliveries will begin, video narrator Jeremy Clarkson, former star of Top Gear, says it will be in “the not too distant future.”
Amazon has been developing a drone delivery service for two years, with the prototype drone having nine propellers and the ability to sense and avoid nearby objects as it flies. It will pick out exactly where to land thanks to a plastic mat landing strip placed down by drone deliverable customers, which indicates they have a lawn with enough space for drone landings.
However, some people are worried about these capabilities. The drone’s delivery zone will be based around a large reference marker. But this marker only informs the drone of where it should land, and it doesn’t determine whether or not it is safe to land there.
In the video, it was stated that the drone would scan the area for potential hazards, but it is still unclear how exactly this happens. Additionally, a moving hazard, such as a loose dog, could easily enter into the area after the drone has scanned the landing zone. Furthermore, it seems unlikely that the drone would be able to find enough landing space in a densely-packed urban environment. This is especially problematic, since urban areas are where drone delivery makes the most sense from an economic perspective.
In the promotional video, Amazon’s drone is shown taking off, landing and hovering like a quadcopter, but with a rear propellor, which allows it to fly forward at speeds of up to 55 mph. While the drone appears to be auto-piloting, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations requires that drones be piloted by humans and can only be flown within visual contact distance.
Amazon boss Jeff Bezos first introduced his vision for a drone delivery service in 2013 and since then the company has been patenting the technology behind its proposed drone system.
For now, it will be a long time until Amazon is ready to safely introduce drone deliveries. Offering drone service before the safety mechanisms are put into place would open the door to major lawsuits when accidents undoubtedly occur. Amazon will continue to move very slowly until it is sure it can use the drones safely. Therefore, don’t expect a drone to deliver goods to your residence anytime soon.